Now that the weather is warming up here at Australia Zoo, our Elephant Department has taken up the challenge to beat the heat and make life more comfortable for the animals in their care! Our Red Pandas, native to the cold regions of the Himalayas, have a five star enclosure at the zoo, fitted with their very own air-conditioned tree hollow and water misters in each tree!
Our Elephants on the other hand, prefer to get down and dirty to beat the heat, sometimes making their keepers just as muddy as they are! Over the last few days we've bought in an excavator and built the girls a new mud wallow, which they've been in ever since! Siam's new favourite hobby is sleeping on the side of the wallow, whilst her servants (or keepers) rub the mud over her body. We also have an amazing pool in our Elephant enclosure, which the girls have been going in most days to cool down (as have a few Elephant keepers!)
In the wild Elephants use mud and water to regulate their body temperature, in addition to using their ears. Temperature control for elephants can be difficult as they have a relatively small surface area compared to their weight. Ears help regulate their temperature by filtering hot blood through veins and capillaries in the Elephant's thin ears, where it cools and gets sent back to the main body. Unlike a lot of other animals, elephants do not sweat to regulate their body temperature, they do however sweat to keep their nails moist and prevent them from drying out and cracking.
So there you have it...How elephants regulate their body temperature!